January hasn’t even finished yet but Lionel Messi is already the firm favourite to win the 2018 Ballon d’Or award following a magnificent start to the calendar year.
The Barcelona maestro, whose tally of five Ballon d’Or awards was equalled by Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo last month, has scored eight goals in seven appearances since the turn of the New Year.
In truth, Messi has been outstanding all season, but right now he’s pulling rabbits out the hat in every match.
The Argentine superstar was at it again on Sunday night as Barça went head-to-head against Alaves at the Camp Nou.
The visitors took a shock lead midway through the first half through John Guidetti, but Luis Suarez equalised for the home side with just under 20 minutes left to play.
MESSI SCORES THE WINNER V ALAVES
Everything was set up for Messi to score the winner – and the 30-year-old didn’t disappoint.
Barça were awarded a free-kick in the 84th minute of the match, Messi stepped up and scored with an exquisite left-footed strike, ensuring the Catalan giants ended the weekend with their 11-point lead at the top of La Liga intact.
MESSI BREAKS LA LIGA RECORD HELD BY RONALDO
In the process, the legendary South American forward also broke a La Liga record that was held by Ronaldo.
Per OptaJose, Messi has now scored more direct free-kicks (21) than any other player in the Spanish top flight since the 2003/04 season.
Ronaldo held the record with 20 – but Messi, who has scored a few free-kicks this season, has now overtaken his long-term rival.
This statistic gives further weight to the argument that Messi is currently the best free-kick taker in the world.
MESSI HAS SCORED 20+ LEAGUE GOALS 10 SEASONS IN A ROW
Additionally, Messi has now scored 20+ league goals in 10 consecutive seasons in La Liga – a remarkable achievement.
He has never scored fewer than 23 league goals in a season since the 2008-09 campaign, while his record tally came in 2011-12 when he bagged an astonishing 50 league goals.
Enjoy Messi while you still can, because we’ll never see a player quite like him ever again.